COVIDIOCY IN WESTMINSTER

Dr John Puntis – Labour Briefing

In the beginning...

The 2018 World Health Organisation manual for epidemics advises: “Longterm substantial investments should be made to strengthen health systems so they are able to provide safe, effective and qualitative health services before, during and after epidemics… and a fit-for-purpose workforce that is trained, safe and provided with personal protective equipment”. On this basis, Conservative governments had already failed the British people long before the appearance of Covid-19, a failure then compounded by gross mismanagement of the ongoing pandemic.

Full briefing: https://labourbriefing.org/blog/2021/1/14/covidiocy-in-westminster

What is happening in Leeds

Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group met this afternoon. Big issues for the NHS locally are

  • tackling Covid 19 – 12 wards at LTHT occupied by patients and staff stretched.
  • trying to keep non Covid care going. Backlogs reduced a bit over summer but growing again. They note that some of the new ways of working accelerated
    by Covid are helping eg. more use of digital and GPs sharing work across practices.
  • The number of patients waiting over 18weeks for a first outpatient apt.( 18,440 in Sept) was more than twice the level in March. Still planning to have a protest early next year re the necessity of building capacity in the NHS. We raised it at the last
  • There are concerns re ophthalmology where long waits can mean people whose sight could have been saved will experience irreversible loss.
  • assessing people for continuing care is mostly happening in “discharge to assess” beds and mostly virtually.
  • workforce pressures greater than ever
  • The CCG has some plans to tackle BAME inequalities and expects more after an Action Plan is put to West Yorks & H’Gate Integrated Care Partnership Board next week along with the report from the Review chaired by Donna Kinnear, They are very pre-occupied with planned changes to the Integrated Care
    Partnerships with the possibility that there will be legal changes next Spring to give the ICS legal status and formal commissioning powers. Leeds still hoping to hold on to its own CCG but this may not be feasible.
  • Shortage of money in the Council and potential cuts to Social Care are going to have a significant impact. CCG also in deficit

We agreed that we need to have discussions with key councillors re the jump up in status of the Integrated Care Partnership which seals in fragmentation of the NHS and keeps the doors open for more private involvement. KONP is working on briefing papers.

Health watch have produced a report on the digital divide in Leeds. About 30% of people in Gipton don’t have on line access except possibly on buses or in the libraries which are currently closed.

Latest minutes in full (pdf)

Leeds Konp News

Privatisation is running amok, help us out a stop to it https://leedskeepournhspublic.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/konp_leeds_newsletter_8.11.20.pdf

And join the Yorkshire wide campaign https://leedskeepournhspublic.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/yorkshire_health_campaigns_together_meeting_30.10.20.pdf

Zoom for the  next meeting of Leeds Keep our NHS Public this Wednesday 11th November 6.30- 8pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2105892452?pwd=MDJwdDAvS1UrQnpBMS9ZbnVDZXR3dz09

Private hospitals cashing in with your taxes, let’s stop them

https://leedskeepournhspublic.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/private_hospitals_win_win_situation_article_by_john_lister_in_the_lowdown_8.11.20.docx

Please send this to MPs, unions:

Motion for organisations, party and union branches etc
Campaign for a National Care Support and Independent Living Service (NaCSILS)
England’s social care is broken. 26% fewer people are supported than in 2010, while demand soars
People face isolation, indignity, maltreatment, neglect, barriers to inclusion and independent living
Care is marketised and privatised. Many small providers have folded; care homes are increasingly managed by unstable corporates and hedgefunds that often deliver poor care in large institutional settings while extracting massive offshore profits.
Disabled and elderly people who need social care and support face high charges, leaving thousands in poverty
Care and support doesn’t reflect users’ needs or wishes
Staff wages, training and conditions are at rock bottom – turnover exceeds 30%
8 million unpaid, overworked family carers, including children and elderly relatives, provide vital support

This (organisation/party branch/union branch etc) demands the Government establish and new National Care, Support and Independent Living Service (NaCSILS) which is:  
Publicly funded, free at the point of use
Publicly provided, not for profit
Nationally mandated but designed and delivered locally
Co- produced with service users and democratically accountable
Underpinned by staff whose pay & conditions reflects true value and skills
Designed to meet the needs of informal carers
And sets up a taskforce on independent living


Campaign for a National Care, Support and Independent Living Service (NaCSILS)
9th July 2020

  1. National Care Support and Independent Living Service (NaCSILS)
    The Government shall have responsibility for and duty to provide a National Care and Supported Living Service to provide care, independent and supported living, adopting into English Law Articles from the UN Convention on rights of disabled people that establish choice and control, dignity and respect, at the heart of person-centred planning.
  2. Fully funded through government investment and progressive taxation, free at the point of need and fully available to everyone living in this country.
  3. Publicly provided and publicly accountable:
    The NaCSILS will have overall responsibility for publicly provided residential homes and service providers and, where appropriate, for the supervision of not-for-profit organisations and user-led cooperatives funded through grants allocated by the NaCSILS. A long-term strategy would place an emphasis on de-institutionalisation and community-based independent and supported living. All provision will deliver to NaCSILS national standards. There will be no place for profiteering and the market in social care will be brought to an end.
  4. Mandated nationally, locally delivered:
    The Government will be responsible for developing within the principles of co-production, a nationally mandated set of services that will be democratically run, designed, and delivered locally. Local partnerships would be led by stakeholders who are delivering, monitoring, referring to or receiving supported services or budgets, e.g. organisations representing disabled people (DPOs), older people, and people who use mental health and other services, in partnership with local authorities and the NHS.
  5. Identify and address needs of informal carers, family and friends providing personal support:
    The NaCSILS will ensure a comprehensive level of support freeing up family members from personal and/or social support tasks so that the needs of those offering informal support, e.g. family and friends, are acknowledged in ways which values each person’s lifestyles, interests, and contributions.
  6. National NaCSILS employee strategy fit for purpose:
    The NCSLS standards for independent and supported living will be underpinned by care and support staff or personal assistants who have appropriate training, qualifications, career structure, pay and conditions to reflect the skills required to provide support services worthy of a decent society.
  7. Support the formation of a taskforce on independent and supported living with a meaningful influence, led by those who require independent living support, from all demographic backgrounds and regions. This would also make recommendations to address wider changes in public policy.

National lockdown -for pity’s sake use it to get ‘test and trace’ working

National lockdown

On the 31st October 2020, the prime minster announced that England would once again come under a national lockdown for coronavirus five and half weeks after this was first recommended by the government’s own Special Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). Over that period of dithering, daily new cases of Covid-19 infection increased from 4,964 to 21,915, hospital in patient cases from 1,502 to 10,000 and deaths from 28 to 326. Scientists, campaigners and many members of the public expressed anger and amazement at the slow response by ministers and their delay in taking decisive action. Exclusion of schools from the lockdown is now causing concern to both parents and teachers, with the National Education Union (NEU) alarmed by evidence of surging infection among pupils calling for them to be closed.

Fatal slowness – lessons not learned

On the 30th January 2020, having considered the situation in China, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Such a declaration equates to an assessment of a situation as ‘serious, unusual, or unexpected; carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s border; and may require immediate international action’. The following day, a team of scientists at the University of Hong Kong recommended that ‘draconian measures that limit population mobility should be seriously and immediately considered, as should strategies to drastically reduce within-population contact rates through cancellation of mass gatherings, school closures, and instituting working from home . . . .preparedness plans should be readied for deployment at short notice, including securing supply chains of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, hospital supplies, and the necessary human resources . . ‘. The same day, the first cases of Covid-19 were identified in the UK. We must not forget that the Westminster government then chose not to heed these warnings, consistently underestimated the risks involved and dragged its feet in making important decisions. This has lead to the UK having the highest death toll in Europe, and provides an urgent and compelling basis to call for an immediate inquiry into the handling of the pandemic so that lessons can be learned and put to use.

No convincing exit strategy

There is no end to the pandemic in sight. A vaccine might become available and might be effective, but only time will tell. Some Conservative politicians
such as John Redwood have become medical experts, feeling able to advise the ‘Today’ programme on BBC Radio 4 that new treatments had changed the outlook for patients. He is, however, appropriately more guarded on his website,
mentioning only the role of steroids and requesting information from ministers on other drug trials. Steroid treatment in critically ill patients on a breathing machine has been shown to decrease the risk of death by a third, but this is small comfort if the number of very sick patients requiring intensive care exceeds the number of beds available. Trials of other drugs have been disappointing so far, with a number of agents including the much touted Remdesevir showing no effect on improving survival. NHS England claim overall improvements in management of patients has produced a modest increase in survival for those needing life support, from 72% to 85%.

Serco and the failed privatised ‘test and trace’

Astonishingly, Redwood makes no criticism of the disastrous and privatised national ‘test and trace’ system, which recently had it worst week ever, reaching only just over 60% of its target 80% of contacts. Of course, all contacts reached should also self isolate, but in reality only around 1 in 5 do so because ‘support’ is not integral to the ‘test and trace’ strategy, as it should be. Serco’s hopeless management of the whole system continues to beggar belief, and now includes the fact that untrained 18 year olds were magically transformed from level 3 call handlers to level 2 clinical contact caseworkers – a position previously reserved largely for qualified doctors. The predictable consequences were described as “a shit show” by one of the distressed employees. Serco claimed it was acting on instructions from the Department of Health and Social Care, which confirmed this was indeed the case.

For Redwood to acknowledge the incompetence of Serco would be an admission that contracting out to a private sector provider is not in fact a guarantee of success, something conservative ideologues find impossible to concede. How much further evidence is required to open the eyes of those who will not see? Most recently, the contract for operation and development of the UK’s nuclear weapons is being taken back into public management after criticism by the National Audit Office of the hundreds of million of pounds being wasted, one of the companies involved being Serco!

Close the schools – support the NEU

School is vitally important for children and loss of educational opportunities may have devastating long term consequences in terms of life chances. Conversely, there are risks of increased community viral transmission when schools are open. Risk reduction and an increase in distance learning should be part of the ongoing Covid-19 management plan. School reopening after the first lockdown was not supposed to happen until the number of new Covid-19 cases had been driven down to a very low level, and an efficient ‘test and trace’ system was in place. Both of these commitments were abandoned by a government obsessed with playing down Covid’s threat to our health while constantly highlighting its potential to cause economic harm. Sadly, the government’s commitment to children’s education and the ‘levelling up’ agenda can be gauged by the fact it has recently slashed funding allocation for laptops to disadvantaged families by 80%
as well as its refusal to continue to provide free school meals during the holidays for children from low income families.

Managing risk in schools

Preconditions that should have been observed for schools to re-open were set out by Independent SAGE: drive community transmission down to low levels; wear masks in secondary schools; additional teachers and spaces and smaller class sizes so that social distancing is feasible; monitoring of ventilation (given aerosol spread in classrooms); provide resources necessary for study at home; clear guidance regarding when to get tested and what to do about isolation; local testing with rapid turnaround of results. We now have a situation where in one week over half a million people were infected, with the highest rates in teenagers and young adults and the most steep rise in school children. The overriding risk factors for spreading infection are known to be closed spaces with poor ventilation, mingling in crowds and settings where there is close contact (a good description of schools!). To be serious about driving down infection once again, schools must be closed and only re-opened when the above preconditions have been met; an urgent task for the Department for Education.

Back to basics – we must have a public test, trace and support system

With cooperation from the public, a second national lockdown is likely to be effective in driving down numbers of cases once again, however, there is no point going back to the previous situation and repeating the exponential increase in cases that followed the ending of the first lockdown. Together with increased surveillance at borders and quarantine for travellers, an effective ‘find, test, trace, isolate and support’ system as outlined by Independent SAGE is the only thing that is likely to make a major difference. This should also incorporate ‘backward’ contact tracing (not being done in the UK at present) where the origin of infection is sought in order to find those super-spreaders – the 10% of people who cause 80% of infections.

The fact that the current privatised system will not and cannot work effectively has not yet been recognised by the government despite all the evidence. Until this issue is grasped and an effective local public health system put in place, we are doomed to repeat cycles of rising infection followed by lockdown with disastrous consequences for both health and the economy. Just as the provision of clean drinking water and sewerage in the 19th century was ushered in only when hundreds of thousands of cholera deaths spread from poor to rich communities, perhaps it is only a grotesquely rising death toll that will prompt decisive action? In the light of what we already know, this would not only represent more criminal foot dragging, but further highlight the callous disregard of this government for its people and their wellbeing.

John Puntis

2nd November, 2020

Leeds KONP tomorrow and Yorkshire Health campaigns together Friday – join us

Leeds KONP, 28th October, 6.30 pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2105892452?pwd=MDJwdDAvS1UrQnpBMS9ZbnVDZXR3dz09

Meeting ID: 210 589 2452 Passcode: 858183

  1. Discussion of the latest news – introduced by John
  2. Review of recent events, particularly the Trade Deals Day of Action
  3. Updates re  ongoing campaigns including  migrant charges, social care campaign
  4. Planning future events
  5. Info re upcoming meetings and other campaigns including schools meals paper plate protest this Saturday.

Yorkshire Health Campaigns together , Friday 30th October 4-5.30pm

Suggested agenda,

Zoom Meeting – Yorks HCT

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2105892452?pwd=MDJwdDAvS1UrQnpBMS9ZbnVDZXR3dz09

Meeting ID: 210 589 2452

Passcode: 858183

  1. Discussion of the latest  news,  introduced by John
  2. Campaign Updates- pay justice, migrant charging, trade deals, social care, privatisation, test and waste etc
  3. Local reports
  4. Future events
  5. AOB

Help us scrutinise Leeds and West Yorkshire health planning

We know how difficult it is for everyone trying to manage the impact of COVID and we welcome volunteers to help attend virtual council or local/regional health planning meetings to hold decision makers to account. If you have some spare time, we can help you with submitting questions and the meeting procedures. Please contact us. We can always use extra pairs of hands to support us with virtual activities on social media and the website so if that’s more your thing, we welcome all offers of assistance.

Updates

We were very pleased to welcome medics to our meeting on 14th October to campaign against charging migrants and other people with undocumented status  for health care. We shared progress in Leeds and agreed to keep in close touch. John has been offered a meeting with Donna Kinnear,  General Sec of the RCN ( Royal College of Nursing ) who is chairing an independent review set up by West Yorks and Harrogate Integrated Health Partnership  to look at the  disproportionate effect of Covid on BAME staff. The Board agreed that it would be relevant to consider concerns re migrant charges. Feedback and more info in the  next newsletter at the end of the month.

Meanwhile the New Economics Foundation and Patients  Not Passports have launched new research: “The International Struggle for Universal Healthcare” — an investigation into the movements across Europe fighting against the exclusion of migrants from healthcare. The report looks at how and why migrants have their right to healthcare restricted, and focuses on the practical lessons that we can all learn about the fight to defend universal access to health. Read it online and please share it widely in your networks. There  a webinar to launch the report on 27th October 7-8.30pm registration link and  (more details )

We also discussed  the  disastrously inadequate, largely privatised test and  trace system stumbling from bad to worse,  the sadly predictable consequences for  schools and universities , confusion, mixed messaging and the Government ignoring the SAGE scientist’s recommendation of  a total shut down or circuit breaker  which the Labour Party is supporting.

The issue of funding those who have to self- isolate remains crucial to compliance. John has asked  LTHT is they can guarantee full pay to their  own staff plus bank  and outsourced staff.  A local campaigner said that a Govt scheme to offer £500 to people who have to isolate just isn’t  working . You have to have bank slips, pay slips etc.  She is organising for a member of Public Health England to speak on test and trace at a local labour Party meeting  in Harrogate.

Upcoming local  meetings  

  • John  is speaking at the Leeds People Not profit  Not Profit launch of an Emergency programme for Jobs, Services and safety along with MP Richard Burgon, Vicky Blake  Secretary  of UCU ( University  and College Union) , Sarah Wooley, General  Sec of the Bakers Union et al .  Meeting ID: 845 1343 2783 Passcode: 768731 https://www.facebook.com/PeopleBeforeProfitLeeds/                
  • He is also speaking at a meeting organised by the Alliance Green Socialism and Global Justice Now on Tuesday 20th Oct at 7.30pm on “Stop The Toxic Trade deal with Trump”  mtg ID 932 4029 2778 passcode 453699

Stop the closure of Richmond House care home in Farsley

Please sign the petition, support the campaign and share / retweet

Richmond House is the lovely unit where one of Leeds Hospital Alert members was sent for rehab a couple of years ago.  It was new build and absolutely lovely.  The staff were great and the care they received second to none.  The beds in Richmond House must be in demand, is it calculated policy which is keeping them empty?

We must do everything we can to save this Home, please sign the petition and support this campaign to stop the Council using cuts as a reason for closure. We need this more than ever.

Full details https://westleedsdispatch.com/petition-launched-to-save-threatened-farsley-care-home/

Join us for Docsnotcops special at LeedsKONP tomorrow 6.30pm

a special shout out for our next Leeds Keep Our NHS Public meeting on Wednesday 14th October at 6.30pm as we have Dr. Rachel Kerr coming along to talk about work to end the hostile environment in the NHS. As you probably know this involves not just charging migrants and other people with undocumented status for health care but reporting non payers to the Home Office and frightening people into not using health services.

Rachel and colleagues are trying to set up a Leeds /Bradford group of “Docs Not Cops”. It will be really interesting to hear what they are planning and discuss how we can work closely together.

Draft agenda:

6.30 – 7.15 Docs not Cops discussion

7.15 – 7.35 Hot news and discussion re the pandemic and the Government response

  1. 35 -7.45 Update on events since the last meeting including launch of the KONP/ SHA campaign for a National Care, Support & Independent Living Service ( see recording below) West Yorks joint CCG mtg. and new Freedom of Info request from John to Leeds Teaching Hospital seeking assurance that staff, including bank staff and sub-contractors will receive full pay if they have to isolate

7.45 Planning our contribution to the National Day of Action against a US Trade Deal on Sat. 24th Oct.

7.55 AOB

Contact us for Zoom link

Sincere apologies to anyone who didn’t manage to join the Social Care launch above because of an unexpected limit on numbers. You can see the whole meeting on you tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsDY7q-rVYM&feature=youtu.be and there will be an open follow up meeting at 6pm on 2nd November to discuss how to progress the campaign.

You might also like to join the Leeds launch of an Emergency programme for Jobs, Services and safety organised by Leeds People Before profit Covid 19 Action group next Monday at 6pm. John Puntis will be one of many speakers including MP Richard Burgon if he can make it.

https://www.facebook.com/events/373799047313412/

This weekend – National Care, Support and Independent Living Service campaign and Solidarity knows no borders

  • The exciting new KONP/ SHA launch of a campaign for a National Care, Support and Independent Living Service is this Saturday 10th October 11-1pm. Please register here

    https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYofu-urTwtHNQiVaytNPwPfsLCFGRs2dYW
  • This weekend 10th – 12th  is also a  weekend of action against the hostile environment : Solidarity Knows No Borders . There may not be a live event in Leeds but anything you can do to share and post would be great. See the newsletter . We are also hoping to have a rep from Docs Not Cops at our Leeds Keep Our NHS Public meeting next Wednesday 14th .
  • Sat October 24th is a Day of Action against a US Trade Deal. Time to start carving pumpkins very soon !   see the newsletter for more 

Do join our next Leeds Keep Our NHS Public meeting on Wednesday 14th October  at 6.30pm

Latest minutes: https://leedskeepournhspublic.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/konp-leeds-newsletter-8.10.20.pdf

 
 

Yorkshire Health Campaigns Together latest notes and key dates for the next two weeks

Yorks HCT mtg 18.9.20

Please also share this motion

Motion for organisations, party and union branches etc

Campaign for a National Care Support and Independent Living Service (NaCSILS)[1]

  • England’s social care is broken. 26% fewer people are supported than in 2010, while demand soars
  • People face isolation, indignity, maltreatment, neglect, barriers to inclusion and independent living
  • Care is marketised and privatised. Many small providers have folded; care homes are increasingly managed by unstable corporates and hedgefunds that often deliver poor care in large institutional settings while extracting massive offshore profits.
  • Disabled and elderly people who need social care and support face high charges, leaving thousands in poverty
  • Care and support doesn’t reflect users’ needs or wishes
  • Staff wages, training and conditions are at rock bottom – turnover exceeds 30%
  • 8 million unpaid, overworked family carers, including children and elderly relatives, provide vital support

This (organisation/party branch/union branch etc) demands the Government establish and new National Care, Support and Independent Living Service (NaCSILS) which is:  

  • Publicly funded, free at the point of use
  • Publicly provided, not for profit
  • Nationally mandated but designed and delivered locally
  • Co- produced with service users and democratically accountable
  • Underpinned by staff whose pay & conditions reflects true value and skills
  • Designed to meet the needs of informal carers
  • And sets up a taskforce on independent living

[1] This campaign was founded jointly by Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) and the Socialist Health Association (SHA). It has wideranging support from many organisations and individuals. For more information on the campaign,see: https://www.sochealth.co.uk/  &   https://keepournhspublic.com/

Coming up

  • This Saturday 26th September Yorkshire Socialist Health association have Allyson Pollock, academic , consultant in public health and a founder member of KONP  speaking about the pandemic, test and trace etc

Register here : https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/111800787164
Facebook event here : please sign up and share! https://www.facebook.com/events/358408625315187/

  • 3rd October  10.30 – 1pm Health Campaigns  Together AGM. Affiliates have been invited but Mike Forster is aiming to send out a link for observers , which I will circulate.

Next Yorkshire HCT meeting Friday October 30th 4-5.30pm. Zoom info to be sent with a reminder a week before the meeting .